NHS 24 has extended its contract with Clinical Solutions for its telephony-based out-of-hours decision support system for the next three years.
The extended contract involves an upgrade of the solution to encompass additional functionality from the system which was originally deployed in 2002 when the Scottish service was launched.
The decision to extend the contract has been based upon the reliability of the system, with training and support provided regularly from Clinical Solutions.
Patients will not be affected by the upgrade, with the service continuing to provide an assessment service for callers, simplifying contact with the NHS and offering support.
Using the Clinical Solutions software, call handlers are guided through a patient encounter tracking and decision support system that helps the advisers in assessing callers’ needs.
Nurses are then passed on call information from call handlers on an urgency basis and can use a nurse triage service for all calls.
The service has recently been cited as struggling to cope with calls but NHS 24 are now keen to expand on the services they offer, with the assistance of the call-centre based software from Clinical Solutions.
Dr Chris Stewart, director of clinical development at NHS 24 said: “Our key objective when the service was launched was to get members of the public to the right point of care at the right time. Over the past seven years, Clinical Solutions has been key in helping us meet this objective and I am delighted that the business is continuing this support going forward.
“We have migrated the technology infrastructure to a .net platform which, combined with the additional functionality of the Clinical Solutions system, will enable us to provide a valuable and efficient service in Scotland.”
NHS 24 has recently come under criticism in its annual review for suffering from a “call centre culture” following recent legal challenges against the service.
The extension may be useful though if daytime calls to GP surgeries or ambulance calls are taken by the NHS 24 helpline to free up doctors for evening appointments – a move which is being considered by the Scottish Executive and bosses at the 24-hour helpline.
Clinical Solutions who also work with the NHS Direct helpline and the Portuguese national health helpline are keen to ensure their software offers the best telephony out-of-hours service possible.
Richard Craven, sales & marketing director at Clinical Solutions, said: “We are thrilled to be continuing this partnership, helping NHS 24 provide unparalleled access for the general public to health advice and information. Not only do patients benefit, but there is more efficient management of resources and alleviation of pressure on emergency and primary healthcare services.”